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Distributed MEMS: new challenges for computation

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2 Author(s)
Berlin, A.A. ; Xerox Palo Alto Res. Center, CA, USA ; Gabriel, K.J.

How do you program a cloud of dust? That is just one computational challenge posed by MEMS, a technology in which multitudes of interacting tiny machines can add computational behavior to materials and the environment in an embedded, massively distributed fashion. Microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, are an emerging set of technologies that make it possible to miniaturize and mass produce large numbers of integrated sensors, actuators, and computers. By merging sensing and actuation with computation and communication, MEMS devices can be distributed throughout the environment, coated on surfaces, or embedded within everyday objects to create distributed systems for sensing, reasoning about, and responding to events in the physical world on a scale never before possible. Distributed MEMS applications go well beyond the scaling limits of today's computational paradigms, posing serious challenges and new opportunities for information technology. MEMS will draw on and drive computation in four key areas: (1) control of large numbers of distributed MEMS sensors and actuators; (2) distributed intelligence, raising the general intelligence and capability of machines and matter; (3) MEMS devices as computational elements; (4) multiple energy domain simulation, analysis, and design. We look briefly at only the first of these areas: the problems and opportunities created by the control of large numbers (thousands to millions) of MEMS sensors and actuators, including coupling to the physical world and environment driven event time demands on computation

Published in:

Computational Science & Engineering, IEEE  (Volume:4 ,  Issue: 1 )

Date of Publication:

Jan-Mar 1997

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